Birthday Cake? Who wants Birthday Cake when they can have Roscon de Reyes! My first SatScenes of 2013 features images of my beautiful and irresistible Roscon filled with Crema de Trufa (Chocolate flavoured Cream) and Nata (Whipped Cream)
I first visited Barcelona when I was ten years old. I admit at the age of ten much of its charm impressed me very little. I was more interested in the giant strawberry sundae with sparkler my Uncle bought me at a local Spanish bar… Since then, thankfully, my tastes have developed a little (although I am still rather partialled to ice cream sundae´s) and I love the charm of creative architecture, most especially the works of Antoni Gaudi; the figure-head of Catalan Modernism. His style is distinctive and expressive, and I firmly believe reflects his own passions.
I am planning a trip to Barcelona for early next year and am hoping to spend my time in a lovely hotel like here. In the meantime I have been compiling a list of things I would like to do whilst there – and believe it may be of use to other potential visitors to Barcelona.
1. Ramble along La Rambla
There was never a more apt boulevard than La Rambla in Barcelona – a perfect gateway to rural Catalonia and its treasures. A mile of vibrant flower stalls, a cultural and exhibition centres, the superb La Boqueria market, a Joan Miró mosaic, newspaper kiosks and countless array of little spanish cafe´s which charge a premium simply for the delightful pass time of allowing you a perfect opportunity for people watching…
Its not possible to visit Barcelona without seeing at least one of his works. Aged ten I considered it grotesque, now I consider it art. The Sagrada Familia, I still believe, is breathtaking and grotesque , in almost equal measure. But Park Güell is a magical place that emulates an English garden city – a delight in such a city. The gatehouses, based on designs for the opera Hansel and Gretel, are magnificant – after which you can walk up a splendid staircase, past a mosaic lizard to what once was a marketplace. Outside, you can then climb to the heights of the park where you are rewarded one of the best views of the city.
3. Embrace Picasso
Spain has produced some of my most favourite artists – granted I adore the works of Salvador Dali the most, but Picasso´s works are wonderful and a trip round the city which inspired him should never be missed. Follow in the footsteps of Picasso by visiting the landmarks that shaped his youth – take a stroll along the Calle Reina Christina and then cross over to 3 Carrer de la Mercè to see where his family lived (though the building has been destroyed). Visit the Museu Picasso, a gallery that records Picasso’s formative years.
4. Snacks on pintxo
If you love tapas then you simply have to try pintxos, platters of bite-sized food served on bread (a Basque version of tapas), which are extremely popular in the city of Barcelona. Many bars follow the tradition of paying by the number of toothpicks – tradition calls for you to pick at the food with toothpicks, and at the end of the night you will be charged for the number of toothpicks that you have used!
5. Magical Montjuïic
Hard to reach, but so worthwhile since its fairly rare for tourists to venture here, which is nice. Scattered across the landward side are buildings from the 1992 Olympic Games amongst others. Its a great leafy stroll with some fabulous views.
6. Try authentic Catalan cuisine
At ten years old I had been raised to be open minded about food so, even then, was particularly adventurous. Some of my fondest culinary experiences were in these areas of Spain and so it will be fabulous to go back and try these same dishes as an adult! Escudellla, Esqueixada, Fideuas and Suquet de Peix are all dishes I recommend trying when in this region.
7. Marvel at the Modernista architecture
Barcelona´s love of Modernista architecture can be seen all over the city – from the Dreta area of Eixample where you can find Gaudí’s luminous Casa Batlló to the shiny Casa Amatller by Puig i Cadafalch, and the decadent Casa Lleó Morera by Domènech i Muntaner. Nearby, you’ll can also find the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, whose city gardens offer a pleasant oasis amid this very bustling city.
Anyone first arriving in Velez-Malaga, especially by bus, could be forgiven for believing this is simply your average working town with not a great deal of beauty. To dismiss it so readily without venturing into the old town would be to do it an injustice.
Today I set it into my sights to walk to the ruined castle which sits high above the town – to do so you pass through the old and far more beautiful part of Velez-Malaga.
If you do visit this town be sure to take the time to walk into the old town and, if you can manage the steep walking, up to the old castle. Here you will find a veritable oasis compared to the newer part of town – exquisitly cobbled streets lined with the traditional village houses typical of this region of Spain – some of which, I might add, totally inaccesible by car as the streets are either too steep and are stepped, or just narrow!
I usually arrive in Vélez fairly early in the morning – around 7.45am. One of my usual haunts at this time is the Cafe Niza (C/ Canalejas, 44) in the centre of town, the breakfasts here are wonderful! Tostada con tomate y aceite (toast lightly drizzled with olive oil, spread with sieved fresh tomatoes and a dash of salt!) are a simple but delightful treat here.
On the seafront I found this poem by Manuel Alcántara, who was a poet, writer and journalist born in Málaga in 1928. I thought its placement here was a wonderful tribute to him.
I like to immerse myself in the writing of Spain. It is a good way to undestanding both the language and the people!
Se me perdió la esperanza
y aquí la vine a buscar.
Por mi tierra y por mi agua.
Que ya se está haciendo tarde
y si no la encuentro en Málaga
no estará en ninguna parte.
Mi pobre tierra no puede
darme lo que estoy buscando.
Nadie da lo que no tiene.
Tampoco puede engañarme:
la conozco desde siempre
y la quiero desde antes.
Yo no culpo a Andalucía,
sé muy bien que a su esperanza
le pasó lo que a la mía.
I could provide a translation for you. But I´m afraid it wont do his beautiful work any justice at all.
As you can see it was pretty wet down there! The journey down the mountain was equally interesting with the new streams, waterfalls and small landfalls which have taken place since heavy rains hit the area. We are venturing out again tomorrow hopefully so I can venture up and photograph the waterfalls before they dry up never to be seen again (well, not until next winter!)
I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, consider myself an artist. But I do like to sketch and dabble a little in charcoal (most of which ends up on me rather than the paper).
But I am having real difficulty finding good quality sketchpads in Spain. If anyone has any recommendations of where I can purchase said product please speak up now!
Nine years ago today I was returning from a holiday in Nerja, Spain. I remember the holiday vividly. The feeling of warmth on my skin as we toured the area, the wonderful local scenery, and the sheer number of times I was hit on during the one week vacation.
I also remember all the way home how I longed to relocate here.
I did. I fulfilled the dream I held for so long. I am sat here now, 45 minutes away from the very location where the dream re-emerged, a resident of Spain.
As a resident of Spain, some four years, I no longer feel the warmth on my skin. I am acclimatised and I am bloody freezing. Unfortunately as a much older lady I no longer get hit on quite so much either, a blessing and a curse combined. The local scenery, especially of my new home, still takes my breath away.
I have wanted to return home more times than I can count. Nostalgia embraced, today is not one of those days, but I can assure you these feelings may well return again. I have regreted the move almost as much as I have celebrated it.
Spain is a wonderful, vibrant and energetic country. Its people, more often than not, are as warm and inviting as the country they are blessed with.
I may no longer feel the warmth of the winter sun because, like its locals, I am am thoroughly acclimatised but I do still love my adopted home.
Every time I consider we are rapidly approaching another New Year my brain crashes with denial. December?! It cannot be, surely?!
It appears I am now an accepted member of the community. So much so they now feel free to take the piss out of me something chronic. Today it was on the subject of the weather. They teased me extensively, hoping I had not moved to Spain for “better weather”. This was as we all looked out of the store window at the howling winds and pouring rain.
When I mentioned the weather in some parts of the UK were far worse they did not seem to believe it was possible – until I mentioned the several feet of snow now encasing parts of the country.
They then proceeded to tell me last year was the first time they had snow in 50 years! Marvellous. I managed to find the following montage of images (which I hope the owner will not mind me using!)
I have heard there is snow in the province of Granada – the mountains of the Alpujaras – which is the next mountain range across from us! There is every chance it could snow again, especially now I live here! I do tend to bring this sort of weather with me.
Our first delivery from amazon.co.uk went wrong. My mother´s birthday is next week and our family decided to send gifts from amazon.co.uk – since they now offer free delivery to Spain on orders over £25 pounds. The failing, on this occasion at least, was not the failing of amazon but rather their local delivery agent (MRW) who, despite living in the nearest town, decided our central village residence was “inaccesible” and refused to deliver. This, I discovered, via tracking on Amazon and their website. When I called they refused to give an explanation as to why my perfectly accessible centrally located property was inaccessible. They offered to redeliver today – but rather than deliver direct to my home they simply abandoned the three parcels at a nearby bar. This I had to discover for myself after finding the parcels “Delivered” on their website and then having to call headoffice and local offices until I could find someone capable of giving me an answer!
I do have to give credit where its due however. Amazon.co.uk responded to each of my queries with them in less than 30 minutes – which, in my experience, is a customer service record on the web! Each email was polite and provided solid answers to my questions.
This year I am embracing Christmas fully. There is going to be a tree, christmas decorations and lights a plenty in our home. I am embracing the Winter Solstice and finally feeling not at all hypocritical (actually, I dont have to, since Christmas as we know it is pagan in origin and has bugger all to do with the birth of Jesus). So, I´m not a pagan either, but hey… what the hell! Pretty decorations, lots of food and celebrating the turn of year with those people who really matter.
Its November and winter here in Spain. Its freezing cold and pouring down with rain. But the view from my kitchen window, as I tackle the mound of washing up caused by lack of gas (and therefore no hot water!), is lovely.
I love the village. I cannot guarantee I will remain here because there are some drawbacks to living so rurally for me which I cannot overcome but I do believe it is one of the best places on earth.
There is something going on in the village today. The normal quiet and empty streets are lined with people and cars. So I am going to investigate!
Now we are once again in rural Spain we have the joy of old fashioned spanish electricals. This means that if you have one too many appliances on it trips off the electrics.
Its like a real game of musical electricals in this house on a daily basis.The cooker and the heater cannot be on at the same time. Neither can the cooker and washing machine. If we want to wash clothes the heating has to be switched off.
We´re really looking forward to cooking Christmas Dinner!